While many Christmas ads this year have been focused on the opportunity for family and friends to come together again after the restrictions that were in place in 2020, this film from homelessness and housing charity Shelter paints a different picture.
Centred on the relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter, it initially seems to tell a fairly typical tale of complicated family interactions in the festive season but takes a darker turn at the end.
The aim of the spot is to highlight the complicated Christmas many families will face this year. Most will be families trapped in inadequate temporary accommodation, but there will also be people sofa-surfing, as well as those forced to sleep rough under bridges or in parked up old cars, constantly moving from one spot to the next.
“We wanted to counter the traditional ‘us and them’ narratives you see so regularly in this space, and in doing so create a shift in power towards the people Shelter is here to help,” says Rick Dodds, creative partner at Don’t Panic says. “We heard and read the stories of some people experiencing homelessness to ensure we came up with an idea that captured the raw reality of what it’s like to be homeless this Christmas. For us, it was all about humanising the issue of homelessness, making it relevant and in some way relatable, building an emotional scene that truly resonates.”
The film launches as the UK is experiencing a housing emergency, with 180,000 households tipped into homelessness during the pandemic. “A run-down hostel where you have to share a kitchen and bathroom with strangers is not a home,” says Andy Harris, director of fundraising at Shelter. “Nor is a cramped cold car in the corner of an empty carpark.
“This film is a powerful testimony to the resilience of the people we help, who are dealing with the trauma of homelessness and hoping for a brighter future. Our frontline services are working hard to be there for people facing homelessness and we hope the public will be inspired to donate what they can this Christmas, to help us carry on this vital work.”
Agency: Don’t Panic
Founder: Joe Wade
Creative Partner: Rick Dodds
Associate Creative Director: George McCallum
Creatives: Toufic Beyhum, Jake Moss
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Jamie Rafn